When parishes wish to make changes to their church buildings, contents or churchyards, they are required to obtain the necessary permissions for works. Parishes can request permission through an online application via the Church of England's Online Faculty System (OFS), a web-based application portal.
Faculty applications are considered by the Lichfield Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) at one of its regular meetings – please note the agenda closing dates (submission dates) for these meetings. Alternatively, a 'minor' faculty application may be processed through the delegated authority faculty procedure (see below), administered on a rolling programme rather than through the meeting schedule.
The online system is designed to guide and prompt you through your application. As part of the online application process, you will be required to give a written description of the proposed works, but in addition you will need to provide full technical details.
Please note that these details are very important and you will need to upload a variety of supporting documents. Without them your application will not be valid and is likely to be delayed in being processed.
Online Faculty System (OFS)
The Lichfield DAC Office commenced use of the OFS for managing online applications for works to churches and churchyards in 2017.
- You may find it helpful to save or bookmark the OFS website for ongoing use: facultyonline.churchofengland.org
Register with the OFS
- Register now to use the OFS – please note that registration is required to be approved by the DAC Office, so there may be a short delay while this occurs
Faculty changes (2022)
Permissions for works to churches and churchyards are governed by the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022, which came into effect in July 2022. This updated legislation accordingly sees changes to how online applications submitted via the OFS are applied for and processed.
A central intention of the amended Rules is to better guide parishes through the faculty application process. To support this, the OFS has been revised, and all new applications from July 2022 have new screens reflecting the updated Rules and encourage close working with the DAC.
Key changes to the OFS are:
- Each new case is treated as an informal application, for the informal (pre-application) advice of the DAC, with the incremental release of the necessary forms up to the point of a formal application
- External formal consultation with other statutory bodies (e.g. Historic England and the National Amenity Societies) has been moved to earlier in the process, before the DAC issues its own formal (statutory) advice
- Consultees can record their formal advice direct within the system, and the public notices section allows public access to the application documents, including the petition, via the OFS (compliant with UK GDPR)
- Parishes and the DAC are required to have 'due regard' to guidance on net zero carbon issued by the Church of England's Church Buildings Council (CBC), for those proposals where it applies
At the start of a new faculty application, you will be asked to complete a summary description of the proposed works, the standard information form, and the early parts of the petition form. The DAC Secretary will review these and advise on the next steps according to what is specifically needed. This process is intended to save you providing more information than is needed.
Statements of Significance and Needs
For applications relating to listed church buildings, the next stage usually requires submission of Statements of Significance and Needs. It is recommended that you consult the following Church of England guidance, which relates to this important part of the application process:
In every case, supporting documents are required to be submitted as part of a valid faculty application.
A range of documents is needed to assist the expert DAC members, who will be reviewing your submitted application, to understand the nature and scope of your proposal. The members will then be able to give statutory advice to the Diocesan Chancellor, which will inform the Chancellor's determination of the case.
Prior to making your application, please read the following diocesan guidance:
When first submitted via the Online Faculty System (OFS), a faculty application will receive the informal (pre-application) advice of the DAC. An informal application gives parishes the opportunity to receive feedback and guidance from the DAC on a proposal. Informal advice can also be offered before undertaking a DAC site visit, to best inform the visit.
When further developed via the OFS, the faculty application will receive the formal (statutory) advice of external bodies (e.g. Historic England and the National Amenity Societies), where applicable, and that of the DAC. The DAC is required to take account of advice received (within 42 days) from external bodies in the giving of its own formal advice.
As a body, the DAC gives formal (statutory) advice on faculty applications to the Diocesan Chancellor. It is the Chancellor, rather than the DAC, who grants faculty permission.
Submission stage summary
|Forms/documents||Submission stage||Advice format|
|Summary description of proposed works|
|Standard information (Form 1A)|
|Petition details (parts of Form 3A)|
|↓||Initial DAC review||DAC Secretary|
|Statement of Significance (if applicable)|
|Statement of Needs (if applicable)|
|↓||Informal DAC advice||DAC meeting or delegated authority|
|External formal consultation (if applicable)|
|↓||Formal DAC advice||DAC meeting or delegated authority|
Please note: Following receipt of formal DAC advice, applications proceed to the petition, 28-day public notice, and faculty determination stages via the OFS (administered by the Diocesan Registry, not the DAC Office)
In order the best facilitate the above process, the Lichfield DAC Delegated Authority Policy was updated at the October 2023 DAC meeting to broaden the use of delegated authority, and includes faculty applications for both informal (pre-application) advice and formal (statutory) advice.
The delegated authority faculty procedure permits a 'minor' faculty application to be delegated to a DAC member or adviser to recommend the case on behalf of the Committee, not requiring it to go to a DAC meeting. Applications are administered on a rolling programme rather than through the meeting schedule.
- For further information, please see the delegated authority faculty procedure
Key user manuals, with step-by-step instructions, relating to the revised OFS – and the submission stages above – include:
- Starting a faculty application
- Completing faculty forms for DAC advice
- Uploading supporting documents and images
- Complete guide to the OFS
If you have any queries regarding the faculty application process, please contact:
Giles Standing, DAC Secretary
01543 221152 firstname.lastname@example.org